Gambar halaman

sity with which every thing relating to French politics is sought after at present.

It is, indeed, a matter of no inconsiderable interest to watch the progress of the excitement that now pervades all France, and to speculate as to the probable consequences that may result from it. On the great question-whether our neighbours are ever likely to attain rational liberty-the symptoms at present exhibited among them afford quite as much grounds for hope as for fear. The magnificent subscription for the family of General Foy- the enthusiasm which has spread through all classes in favour of the Greeks, to assist whose cause there are Comités Philhelléniques established in almost every great town; - the sensitive alarm with which such events as the disgrace of M. Montlosier, and the appointment of the Bishop of Strasbourg to be tutor to the young Prince, are viewed-these, and many other such indications of popular feeling, seem to prove, that there is a right spirit abroad through France, and that the people take that lively interest in public affairs which alone insures the honesty and efficacy of a government, by making every man in the community a centinel on its movements.

In the general courage and fairness of their legal tribunalsone of which has been honest enough to draw down upon itself a rebuke from Royalty, while another, in the case of the descendents of La Chalotais against the Etoile, has left a decision upon record worthy of the pages of Fenelon--we find that best and only pledge against the abuse of laws, which lies in the integrity and impartiality of those who administer them. The sympathy with which the Chamber of Peers has lately entered into the views of the people, -upon a subject, too, where it could be least expected from them, the rights of primogeniture,-speaks strongly for the liberal spirit of that body; as the eloquence which they displayed on that occasion, and the triumph they gained, speak no less strongly for their talents and power. The speeches, or rather essays, delivered by MM. Pasquier, Molé, de Barante, and de Broglie, exhibit å clearness and strength of argument, a range and depth of views, which but few of our Noble thinkers could rival. From the discourse of the Duc de Broglie- which, it is no mean praise to say, was the best that this important occasion called forth we cannot resist the temptation of giving the following extract, which, besides affording a specimen of the Noble orator's powers, is interesting, as containing the bold and candid opinions of so enlightened a foreigner upon the institutions of Great Britain :

• C'est aussi là ma réponse à d'autres orateurs, dont j'honore les

vues, mais dont je ne partage point les chimères ; à d'autres orateurs qui, éblouis et comme enchantés par l'exemple d'un pays voi. sin, rêvent en ce moment la possibilité d'instituer en France, non pas une noblesse de cour ou de province, mais une aristocratie libre et fière, puissante et majestueuse, protectrice éclairée des libertés populaires.

Les temps en sont passées. Desormais toutes les classes de la nation Française, sont également émancipées ; que l'on tourmente la population en tout sens, on n'en fera plus sortir ni clients ni patrons ; on n'en fera plus sortir que des Magistrats et des Citoyens. Si c'est là un mal ou un bien, je laisse chacun le décider selon qu'il l'entend : quant à moi j'en suis—fier et j'en rends graces au ciel. Il y a des choses d'ailleurs qui ne se font, ni à la main, ni après coup.

• Oui, je le sais, le droit de primogéniture existe en Angleterre; il y existe plus dur, plus injuste cent fois que la loi actuelle ne nous le propose ; tous les bien-fonds vont à l'aîné; tous sans exception ; les puînés n'ont de ressources qu'une église riche jusqu'à la profusion, jusqu'au scandale, que l'armée, ou les grades s'achètent et se vendent ; que des sinecures sans nombre et sans mesure ; qu'une foule de postes lucratifs dans les colonies ; que l'Inde òu, si longtemps cinquante millions d'hommes ont été livrés en pâture à la ra. pacité des exacteurs. Oui, je le sais la distinction des rangs en Angleterre est conservée avec une exactitude pointilleuse et pédantesque ; le gouvernement depuis plusieurs siécles y appartient, à-peu-près exclusivement, à un petit nombre de grandes familles qui, rangées sous des étendards différents, se disputent et se transmettent le pouvoir, selon le vent de l'opinion qui domine ; tous les détails de l'administration sont dévolus à une vaste corporation de gentilshommes, qui, sous les noms de juges de paix, de grands jurys, font tout, decident de tout, disposent de tout-gratuitement, j'en tombe d'accord, mais aussi affranchis de tout contrôle, exempts de toute responsabilité positive. Et pourtant j'ai hâte de le déclarer hautement ; quelque préjugé qui s'éléve au premier abord contre un tel ordre de choses, l'aristocratie Anglaise honore l'humanité; c'est un imposant phénoméne dans le monde et dans l'histoire; associée de tout temps aux intérêts du peuple, elle n'a jamais cessé de revendiquer les droits du moindre citoyen, aussi courageusement que les siens propres ; elle a ouverte la route où la nation marche aujourd'hui; elle a couru les mêmes chances, défendu la même cause, combatta le même combat. Depuis cent cinquante ans que la victoire est gagnée, elle n'a ni devié ni dégénéré; elle a sans cesse accueilli dans son sein toutes les supériorités qui se sont élevées ; une heureuse émulation, digne fruit des institutions libres qu'elle a fondées, s'est maintenue dans les hauts rangs ; l'aristocratie Anglaise est encore aujourd'hui l'élite de l'Angleterre, de cette Angleterre elle-même qui tient le premier tang parmi les peuples libres.'

Another strong ground of hope for the political advancement

of our neighbours, is the activity and talent of their periodical press. It is impossible for a nation to go asleep over its liberties, that has such daily flappers in its ears as the Courier Français and the Journal des Débats, the latter of which is, perhaps, the best conducted Journal-not excepting even our own admirable Times-in Europe. The conformation, too, and character of the Opposition which these two papers represent, is of a nature particularly favourable to the diffusion of sound, constitutional views-consisting, as it does, of two distinct parties, one of which supports the Charte upon monarchical principles, while the other maintains it upon more democratic and revolutionary grounds. A rational balance of opinion is thus preserved between them, and the public mind saved from either of those extremes, to which an Opposition purely Royalist, or purely Democratic, might force it.

To these promising circumstances in the political condition of France, there are others, of a nature at least equally discouraging, to be opposed. Among these must be reckoned a no less essential consideration than the character of the people themselves, whose appetite for novelty, fed as it has been so abundantly for the last half century, will hardly allow them to rest at the right point when they have found it, and whose readiness to be excited by trifles requires a considerable deduction to be made from the value and trust-worthiness of their zeal upon important concerns. When we see enthusiasm pouring itself out upon frivolous objects like the thunder-cloud, parting with its contents to a kite-we lose one of the tests by which its importance on affairs of more moment can be estimated. The reveries of Animal Magnetism and Somnambu. lism have already, we believe, supplanted in Paris the disquisitions on the droit d'ainesse, and the cry against the Jesuits ; and the cures performed by young ladies in their sleep (the magnetic power enabling then, in that state, to see into the interior of their patients *) have excited sensation and discussion ---

------------ - * This miraculous application of the powers of magnetism to me. dical purposes has, of course, superseded the eau magnetisée' of MM. Mesmer and Deleuze, which used formerly to work such won: ders. Some of these somnambulists have equally the power of scrutinizing their own interior ; and M. Puységur, one of the great upholders of the mystery, gives an account of a girl who, during her magnetic slumber, saw four large worms gnawing her heart. She prescribed for herself accordingly; and, as M. Puységur assures us, got rid of the worms. It is only among a people long worked upon by priestcraft, that such juggling as this could have the smallest chance of success.

enough to attract to them the solemn notice of the Académie de Médecine.

• Faire sérieusement les choses frivoles, 'is nearly as much a characteristic of the French now, as it was in the days of Montesquieu ; and, from this habit of theirs of doing foolish things with a grave face, we should be in great danger of being deceived, were we to measure their sense of the importance of a business by the seriousness and earnestness with which they set about it. This sort of fantastic solemnity is particularly observable in those writers among them who set up for broachers of new systems or theories. M. Azaïs, who, satisfactorily to himself, proves that Man is but a fortuitous excrescence, a mere developpement spontané d'une mousse'M. Beyle, who sees, in the working of the human passions, nothing more than a process of crystallization, and who would say of a young lady, when she first falls in love, that

her heart begins to crystallize,'-M. de Monville, who insists that the world, and all it contains, is composed of four different sorts of little triangular-pyramidical-shaped molecules, with four equal faces,--all these sages, and many more of the same profundity that might be mentioned, maintain their respective theories with a gravity and earnestness, which show the im. portance that vanity can attach to its own whims, and prove; that what would pass for but an indifferent joke in England, may, in the hands of an ingenious Frenchman, be promoted into philosophy. Almost a natural consequence of this habit of treating trifles seriously is the far more dangerous error of viewing important matters as trifles; and, when we see so many instances of both these tendencies among our neighbours, it is impossible not to fear that the same false standard may be applied by them to politics,—that the habit of extracting selfglorification from every thing, (like the projector of Laputa; who extracted sun-beams out of cucumbers), may incapacitate them from understanding real glory, and that the same vanity which, at one time, makes such parade of the shadow of liberty, may, at another time, be equally ready, for its own triumph, io sacrifice the substance.

Another great obstacle to the advancement of free principles in France is that revived spirit of fanaticism, of which the Court is the soul and centre, and which, by bringing into play some of the worst features of the Catholic faith, draws down disgrace upon this religion, both in France and elsewhere, and not only embarrasses the friends of liberty in that country, but affords its enemies a new pretext for oppressing their fellow-country, men in this. We have no doubt that the greater portion of the intelligent people of France regard these advances of bigotry

and ultramontanism * with disgust. But the spirit of Jesuitism, once put in motion, is not so easily checked ;-like the landcrab, it will make its way through all obstacles; and a people who see established among them, under the sanction of the Government and the Church, a Society, t whose stock in trade consists of Plenary Indulgences, and whose members are required, as their sole qualification, to repeat punctually a Pater and Ave - par jour,' must be indebted more to their own good sense than to the wisdom or good intentions of their Government, if they do not retrograde in freedom even faster than they have advanced-till, like their rulers, living only in the past, they come to resemble those people mentioned by Dante, whose faces were turned backwards, and who, accordingly, saw nothing but what was behind them!

Almost equally mischievous with this ecclesiastical interference is the direct personal influence which, notwithstanding the interposition of ministerial agency, the Monarch still continues to hold over the minds of the whole community, and which must long, we fear, - prevent the French from attaining that abstract and constitutional notion of the Royal power, upon which not only the theory but the practice of a govern. ment like theirs depends. . To the mind of a Frenchman, the idea of a King always presents itself in the pompous form and attitude of that portrait of Louis XIV. at Versailles, under

* In the controversy, to which this state of things has given rise, between the Ultramontanists on one side, and the champions of the liberties of the Gallican Church on the other, we find not a few instances of that unfairness which is so common a characteristic of theological disputes. For example,-Bossuet, in his Defence of the Orthodoxy of the Gallican Church, has said, that, even if the Declaration of 1682 were out of the question, the principles on which it was founded, would nevertheless remain linshaken and uncensured : Abeat ergo declaratio-manet inconcussa et censuræ omnis expers prisca illa sententia Parisiensium.' Of this sentence M. de la Mennais, and other Ultramontane writers who quote it, omit all but the first three words— Abeat ergo declaratio '-as if Bossuet had said and meant, " Away, then, with the declaration !' - The Bishop of Hermopolis, in his late exposition of the state of ecclesiastical affairs, has evidently endeavoured to weaken the force of this Antipapal document; saying of it- Que Louis XIV. lui • donna en quelque sorte une existence légale, non que ce grand roi • voulût en faire un point de doctrine, mais parce qu'il dût penser " qu'une declaration approuvée par tous les évêquez avoit quelque chose • de respectable.' + La Propagation de la Foi.

VOL. XLIV. NO. 87.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »